As a clergy person, I'm allowed to opt-out of the Social Security system. But I'm not dumb. I opt-in along with making modest investments (in socially responsible funds) available through the United Church of Christ retirement plan.
Without Social Security my grandparents - particularly after my grandmother's stroke - would have been destitute. The same with my great-grandmother. Like most Americans, I don't come from a rich family.
Churches were at the forefront of the movement to create Social Security and we are at the forefront of the movement to defend it. The National Council of Churches USA (NCC) said a few years ago:
The churches’ work to protect the Social Security system has a strong biblical grounding, even though you won’t find the phrase “Social Security” in the Bible. What you will find are Old and New Testament texts that repeatedly challenge us—as a society—to provide for the most vulnerable among us: people living in poverty, the elderly, widows and orphans. Do you remember the story of Joseph, who, inspired by God, dreamed a plan that saved Egypt from famine? Foreseeing lean years ahead, he advised Pharaoh to store up grain. The Bible records the plan: “Let them gather all the food of these good years that are coming, and lay up grain under the authority of Pharaoh for food in the cities …” (Genesis 41:35) So, too, in our time, we the people, acting through our elected officials, should be prudent and provide a safety net to prevent any in our society from falling into poverty. Social Security is just such an anti-poverty program that shares risks and rewards across our whole society.
The Bible is clear that God judges peoples and nations by how well they carry out God’s assignment to care for vulnerable people. At the end of the debate on Social Security, let us be able to say we have met that challenge well.
So I was proud again today to hear Senator Barack Obama defend Social Security and to argue that our economy needs to work for all Americans - not just the rich and powerful.
I'm not using this statement from the NCC to imply that they endorse Senator Obama's position on Social Security. After all, it was written before the presidential election and NCC does not engage in partisan politics.
But for me the debate over the meltdown on Wall Street and the fight over Social Security - which Senator McCain has argued should be privatized - is central to this election.
I want a president that is willing to fight for everyone - young and old - and who understands that the moral responsibility of this generation is to protect the most vulnerable among us.